Day 8 – Surah Al-Maedah (The Feast)

Surah Al-Maeda (The Feast) is one of the late Surahs that were revealed in Madinah towards the final years of the life of prophet Muhammad PBUH. Its main objective is to remind the believers with the pledges that they gave to Allah SWT when they chose to accept Islam as a way of life:

  • For the Muslim community, the Surah gives guidance on the laws of Halal and Haram in different aspects of our life, such as food, marriage, cleanliness, and justice. From the very first Ayah, Allah says: “Oh you who believe, fulfill your obligations” [5:1]
  • In contrast, the Jews and Christians are confronted with their corrupted beliefs and practices. Mainly, they rejected the order which Jesus gave to his disciples to welcome the final messenger Muhammad PBUH:“but they forgot a good part of the message that was sent to them”

 
“Oh you who believe”: 16 /88

88 Ayahs in the Quran start with “يا أيها الذين آمنوا”; Abdullah bin Masud says: “when you hear Allah saying “Oh you who believe” then pay close attention, because it is either telling you something important to do, or warning you from something evil to avoid.

t is interesting to note that this Surah has 16 Ayahs starting with this phrase (the highest amount in the whole Quran), which gives this Surah its unique identity as the Surah of Halal and Haram.

Although we won’t cover the details of the commands of Allah in this summary, it is essential to highlight the following core values in our Islamic tradition: 

  • Declaring things as halal or haram belong to Allah alone, and He has the full authority:
    • God commands what He will      [إن الله يحكم ما يريد     [5:1
    • Those who do not judge according to what God has revealed
      are lawbreakers. [5:47]
        وَمَن لَّمْ يَحْكُم بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّهُ فَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ
  • Allah told us what is Halal (permissible) for us before stating what is Haram. This is a beautiful way in educating people about Islam by mentioning the permissible first, and that we are allowed to eat most of what’s on earth with few exceptions.

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ أَوْفُواْ بِالْعُقُودِ أُحِلَّتْ لَكُم بَهِيمَةُ الأَنْعَامِ إِلاَّ مَا يُتْلَى عَلَيْكُمْ
You who believe, fulfill your obligations; Livestock animals are lawful as food for you, with the exception of what is about to be announced to you… [5:1]  

  • After discussing the permissible food for the body, the surah mentions the food for the soul, and then talks about the Ayah of Wudu (ablution) and Tayammum (dry ablution) [5:6] as necessary requirements for prayer. 

 
 The Complete & Perfect Deen 

This Surah contains a dear Ayah to the hearts of the believers:

الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الإِسْلامَ دِينًا
Today I have perfected your religion for you, completed My blessing upon you, and chosen Islam as your religion [5:3]
  
A Jew came to Omar bin khattab and said:  if our community received this Ayah, we would have taken the day of its revelation as a day of celebration. Omar replied and said: This was revealed upon us on an occasion of two eids: The day of Arafa (9th of Thul-Hejjah, and on a Friday)
 
Previous Nations Breaking Their Promise with Allah 

Despite the strong theological discussion against the people of the book and their misconduct, the Surah mentions that it is permissible to eat from their food (i.e. slaughtered meat) and marry their women as long as they are chaste. It shows the beautiful balance in our Islamic law, that one should not have hate or bias towards other communities of faith. It actually mentions explicitly that any disagreement should not lead to injustice:

وَلاَ يَجْرِمَنَّكُمْ شَنَآنُ قَوْمٍ عَلَى أَلاَّ تَعْدِلُواْ   اعْدِلُواْ هُوَ أَقْرَبُ لِلتَّقْوَى
“Do not let hatred of others lead you away from justice, but adhere to justice, for that is closer to awareness of God”. [6:8]

After that introduction, the Quran addresses the false claims that different branches of the Christian faith attributed to Jesus peace be upon him:

لَّقَدْ كَفَرَ الَّذِينَ قَالُواْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ الْمَسِيحُ ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ   
Those who say, ‘God is the Messiah, the son of Mary,’ are defying the truth [6:17]

لَّقَدْ كَفَرَ الَّذِينَ قَالُواْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ ثَالِثُ ثَلاثَةٍ 
Those people who say that God is the third of three are defying the truth [6:73]

وَإِذْ قَالَ اللَّهُ يَا عِيسَى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ أَأَنتَ قُلْتَ لِلنَّاسِ اتَّخِذُونِي وَأُمِّيَ إِلَهَيْنِ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ 
When God says, ‘Jesus, son of Mary, did you say to people, “Take me and my mother as two gods alongside God”? [5:116]

The struggle of prophet Musa with his people is mentioned next, and how he urged them to enter the holy land, and promised them victory from their Lord [5:20-26]. However, they were not up to the challenge, again, and used a very inappropriate language with their prophet and their Lord:
So you and your Lord go in and fight, and we will stay here” [5:24]
 
Because of that, they wandered in the wilderness for forty years, and lost many privileges given to them by Allah.
Afterwards, the story of the two sons of Adam, Abel and Cain (Qabil and Habil), is mentioned to highlight the consequences of evil. Although in worldly measures the killer may seem to survive and win on a temporary basis, Allah confirms that killing one human soul is equivalent to killing the entire humanity, which is basically the ultimate loss in the hereafter.
 
Wisdom Behind the Name:

 The Surah is concluded with a story where the disciples of prophet Issa (Jesus) ask for a miracle: a feast to be sent down upon them from the heaven. Allah warned them from witnessing a miracle and then retracting from the faith

قَالَ اللَّهُ إِنِّي مُنَزِّلُهَا عَلَيْكُمْ فَمَن يَكْفُرْ بَعْدُ مِنكُمْ فَإِنِّي أُعَذِّبُهُ عَذَابًا لاَّ أُعَذِّبُهُ أَحَدًا مِّنَ الْعَالَمِينَ

God said, ‘I will send it down to you, but anyone who disbelieves after this will be punished with a punishment that I will not inflict on anyone else in the world.’ [5:115]

Our community was granted a huge miracle from Allah (probably more significant than the table that was revealed on the companions of Jesus): we were given this Quran and the blessing of the completion of religion [5:3]. Are we going to fulfill Allah’s commands and pledge, or are we going to deny the favors of Allah as some of the nations before us did?

 

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